Related Rural Blog Posts

  • More Help for Those Coping with the Drought

    President Barack Obama tours the McIntosh family farm (August 13, 2012)

    President Barack Obama tours the McIntosh family farm, which has been affected by the drought, in Missouri Valley, Iowa, Aug. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Farmers in Iowa are among those struggling with the fallout from the historic drought. Almost half of the corn crop is in poor or very poor condition. The same is true for more than a third of the soy bean crop. Disappointing yields are in turn driving up feed prices, and farmers and ranchers are having trouble feeding livestock. And there are similar stories throughout the nation's heartland. 

    Today President Obama saw the damage first-hand and described a new effort to help livestock producers. 

    Touring McIntosh Family Farms in Missouri Valley, Iowa, the President announced that the Department of Agriculture will begin to buy up to $170 million worth of pork, chicken, lamb, and catfish. And the President is directing the Department of Defense -- which purchased more than 150,000 million pounds of beef and pork in the last year alone -- to encourage its vendors to accelerate meat purchases for the military and freeze it for future use.  

    The goal is to give farmers and ranchers an opportunity to sell more of what they produce and save taxpayers money on food the government would have purchased for military bases, hospitals, schools, and food banks anyway. 

    "Understand this won't solve the problem. We can't make it rain," the President said. "But this will help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country, including here in Iowa. And we're going to keep doing what we can to help because that's what we do. We are Americans. We take care of each other."

    To deliver more expansive aid for those hit by the drought, President Obama said that Congress needs to act. 

    "They need to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty," he said. 

    But in the meantime, the President won't wait for lawmakers to begin helping those struggling with the high temperatures and the lack of rain.


    Learn more: 

    • The Department of Agriculture is collecting resources for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis at USDA.gov/drought
    • President Obama discusses his administration's all-hands-on-deck approach to the drought in the Weekly Address
    • More information still is available at WhiteHouse.gov/drought.

  • Weekly Address All-Hands-On-Deck Response to the Drought

    President Obama discusses the Administration’s all-hands-on-deck approach to one of the worst droughts in more than fifty years. 

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • Assistance for Small Businesses Affected by the Drought

    Ed note: this post was originally published on SBA.gov, the official site of the U.S. Small Business Administration

    Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the White House Rural Council, which focused on our coordinated response to historic drought conditions that are affecting communities across Rural America.

    Our goal at the SBA and across the Administration is making sure that these hard hit communities have the tools and the resources they need to navigate and recover from these severe drought conditions.

    To date, the SBA has issued 71 agency drought declarations in 32 states covering more than 1,630 counties. These declarations allow small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-farm small businesses that are economically affected by the drought in their community to apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

    To find out if your county has been declared a drought disaster area, view SBA's current disaster declarations page. And to learn more about how to apply for a disaster loan, go to the SBA Disaster Assistance section of the SBA Web site.

  • An Administration-Wide Response to the Drought

    President Barack Obama meets with the White House Rural Council (August 7, 2012)

    President Barack Obama meets with the White House Rural Council to discuss ongoing efforts in response to the drought, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 7, 2012. Among those attending with the President were, from left, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Throughout much of the country, communities are struggling with one of the worst droughts to strike the U.S. in decades. The lack of rain and high temperatures have done considerable damage to crops -- particularly those in the Midwest.

    Today, President Obama met with the White House Rural Council to discuss the steps being taken to help farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis.

    As part of that response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that it will provide millions of dollars in assistance to restore livestock lands affected by the drought. The USDA will spend $16 million on technical and financial assistance for those whose crops or herds have suffered.

    The USDA has also reduced interest rates on its emergency loan program and worked with the major crop insurers to allow farmers to forego interest payments on unpaid premiums until November. The National Credit Union Administration also announced that more than 1,000 credit unions are increasing their lending to small businesses -- including farmers.

  • Making Federal Resources More Accessible for Rural Communities

    Federal agencies often get requests from local governments and organizations—especially those in rural America—to make information about available grants and resources easier to access and understand. The HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communitiesand USDA have just released a publication that does that. Federal Resources for Sustainable Rural Communities is a guide to programs from the four agencies that rural communities can use to promote economic competitiveness, protect healthy environments, and enhance quality of life. It provides key information on funding and technical assistance opportunities as well as examples of how rural communities across the country have put these programs into action to achieve their goals. With this menu of options, local leaders can more easily identify federal resources that support community planning, cost-effective infrastructure, economic development, brownfields revitalization, and other activities that are part of achieving sustainable communities. They can also see program eligibility and matching requirements at a glance.

     The White House Rural Council has heard from many stakeholders that keeping track of federal funding availability, researching program requirements, and completing applications can be a heavy burden for communities, particularly small rural communities with limited staff capacity.

  • Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food - Across the United States

    Today, I hosted a Google+ Hangout with Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to highlight efforts to strengthen local and regional food systems across the United States.

    The event was an opportunity to talk about local food with inspiring women from around the country, from Valerie Segrest, of the Muckelshoot Indian Tribe near Seattle, WA, who sees local and traditional foods as a way to preserve her heritage, to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, MD, who has made great strides in building her city’s local food system to increase access to healthy affordable food. You can watch the full video from the hangout below or on YouTube.

    The hangout also marked the launch of the 2.0 version of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. An innovative digital guide and map, the KYF Compass highlights USDA-supported local food projects around the country. The 2.0 version features thousands of local food projects in all 50 states and includes keyword and zip code search features.